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Old 03-08-2012, 11:15 AM   #11
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what are the advantages/disadvantages to a refractometer?

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Old 03-08-2012, 12:28 PM   #12
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what are the advantages/disadvantages to a refractometer?
Refractometers are more accurate but from what I've read they can't be used once fermentation has begun where a hydrometer can.
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Old 03-08-2012, 12:34 PM   #13
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i would not be able to use a refract to measure final gravity?

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Old 03-08-2012, 12:44 PM   #14
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i would not be able to use a refract to measure final gravity?
No.

Which is why I still use a hydrometer and a thermometer. Some refractometers actually only have accurate ATC between 86* and 114*... so those aren't even worth buying (the wort from my mash usually runs around 125*-140*).
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Old 03-08-2012, 12:49 PM   #15
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i am needing to purchase a hydrometer (or refractometer?) and i was wondering what people recommend? does it need to have built in thermometer?

also, along this same idea, i am needing a thermometer to monitor my brew kettle temps? should i just go ahead and do a weldless therm install into my kettle? should i buy one of the digital quick reads? get the cheapo kind that clips to the top of my kettle?

trying to make sure i purchase the right stuff the first time
I'm new to brewing too. I have a hydrometer, a digital thermometer and one of the cheapo dial clip on type. I watch the clip on type and when my kettle temp gets close to my target temp, I stick the digital in to get a more accurate reading. I calibrated my digital by sticking it into boiling water (it was within a degree or two) and then after cooling down, into my freezer ice bin. There's tons of them out there. Just find one that fits your budget and brewing style.
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Old 03-08-2012, 12:55 PM   #16
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Technically, you CAN use a refractometer to measure final gravity - but you have to do a bunch of math to the value you get, and even then you're only arriving at an estimate of final gravity, while a hydrometer will give you an exact measurement of FG.

That said, a refractometer has a couple added benefits to all grain brewers: you can use much smaller samples for measurements. You can very easily take samples on the fly - so you can easily sample the gravity of your first runnings, second runnings, etc. You can use it each step along the way during your brew day to make sure you're making your numbers and adjust accordingly; either watering things down if you're TOO efficient (and concerned about that sort of thing) or adding some extract if you're a little shy of your intended gravity.

The only benefit I could see to having an all in one thermometer/hydrometer is that you could, all at once, get the gravity and temperature of your sample, so you can tell with a single tool and single measurement how much you need to adjust the gravity reading for temperature. Not really worth the cost, in my book, since you need a good thermometer for so many other things.

The thermometer in the brew kettle can be handy if you plan to use an immersion chiller - it's super convenient to just set up your chiller, put the lid on to keep any gunk out, and watch the temp drop on that thermometer.

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Old 03-08-2012, 12:56 PM   #17
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No.

Which is why I still use a hydrometer and a thermometer. Some refractometers actually only have accurate ATC between 86* and 114*... so those aren't even worth buying (the wort from my mash usually runs around 125*-140*).
ooh, thanks for the heads up on this one. much appreciated.
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Old 03-08-2012, 01:03 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by stratslinger View Post
Technically, you CAN use a refractometer to measure final gravity - but you have to do a bunch of math to the value you get, and even then you're only arriving at an estimate of final gravity, while a hydrometer will give you an exact measurement of FG.

That said, a refractometer has a couple added benefits to all grain brewers: you can use much smaller samples for measurements. You can very easily take samples on the fly - so you can easily sample the gravity of your first runnings, second runnings, etc. You can use it each step along the way during your brew day to make sure you're making your numbers and adjust accordingly; either watering things down if you're TOO efficient (and concerned about that sort of thing) or adding some extract if you're a little shy of your intended gravity.

The only benefit I could see to having an all in one thermometer/hydrometer is that you could, all at once, get the gravity and temperature of your sample, so you can tell with a single tool and single measurement how much you need to adjust the gravity reading for temperature. Not really worth the cost, in my book, since you need a good thermometer for so many other things.

The thermometer in the brew kettle can be handy if you plan to use an immersion chiller - it's super convenient to just set up your chiller, put the lid on to keep any gunk out, and watch the temp drop on that thermometer.
fantastic info here. thank you.
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Old 03-08-2012, 01:46 PM   #19
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i think i have decided on http://www.amazon.com/Fisher-Scienti...pr_product_top and http://www.amazon.com/H-B-Instrument...17530&sr=1-101

i am probably over thinking everything, but... that's what i do, lol

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Old 03-08-2012, 02:04 PM   #20
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I now have a collection of 4 different devices to measure temperatures. Recently bought a taylor digital oven thermometer which I found was reading 11 degrees too high. I have a thermal industries (which makes thermapen) oven thermometer on order. I bought it because unlike the taylor unit, it lists a tolerance (1 degree F). I like this particular model because it also has a timer so I can simultaneously monitor temperature and timing on my mashes and boil. The drawback is the probe on the unit i bought is NOT listed as waterproof, so I bought an extra probe, figure I'll be careful to only put the tip into the wort. 20$ is a lot less than the $60 for the thermapen, which is not actually waterproof but only splashproof. I'll let you know how it works out.

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